Nearly 5 years after launching Whatsapp's desktop app for Mac and Windows, WhatsApp, the Facebook-owned messaging service used by over 2 billion people, has announced that one-to-one voice and video calls are now available on WhatsApp's desktop app.

Throughout 2020, there has been a significant increases in people calling one another on WhatsApp, often for long conversations.

"Answering on a bigger screen makes it easier to work with colleagues, see your family more clearly on a bigger canvas, or free up your hands to move around a room while talking. To make desktop calling more useful, we made sure it works seamlessly for both portrait and landscape orientation and appears in a resizable standalone window on your computer screen, and is set to be always on top so you never lose your video chats in a browser tab or stack of open windows," reads a statement by WhatsApp announcing the new features for its desktop app.

πŸ“· How WhatsApp video calls on the desktop app will look like.

Growth of WhatsApp

Mark Zuckerberg said on 30 October 2020 during Facebook's quarterly earnings calls that Whatsapp is now delivering 100 billion messages a day.

Despite many privacy concerns around Facebook and WhatsApp, the company has insisted that it can’t hear or see calls made on its apps.

"We’re starting with one-to-one calls on the WhatsApp desktop app so we make sure we can give you a reliable and high-quality experience. We will be expanding this feature to include group voice and video calls in the future, says the tech giant."

WhatsApp's new Privacy Policy

On the other hand, South Africa's Information Regulator (IR) wrote to Facebook South Africa "and provided an analysis of some of the concerns that it has" around WhatsApp's new Privacy Policy, it said in a statement on Wednesday night.

Among other things, the IR said that the social media company's South African users simply aren't in a position to give WhatsApp permission to pass on cellphone numbers to the rest of Facebook.

South Africa's Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) states clear guidelines and rules on what companies can – and can not – do with personal information. For some uses of personal information, the agreement of users is not enough; prior permission must be sought from the Information Regulator. And what it believes Facebook plans around cellphone numbers is one such case, the IR says.

β€œWe are very concerned about these different standards that apply to us; our legislation is very similar to that of the EU. It was based on that model deliberately, as it provides a significantly better model for the protection of personal information than that in other jurisdictions. We do not understand why Facebook has adopted this differentiation between Europe and Africa."

"We are reviewing a letter from the Information Regulator in South Africa, which relates to our privacy policy. To be clear, this update does not expand our ability to share data with Facebook and does not impact the privacy of your messages with friends or family wherever they are in the world. WhatsApp does not share your contacts with Facebook and that policy applies to users everywhere, including in South Africa. We remain fully committed to delivering secure and private communications for everyone," reads a response by Facebook to the IR.

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